In the South, Super Bowl Sunday starts at church

Rise up Falcons

The football experts say the Atlanta Falcons don’t have a prayer in this year’s Super Bowl.

Of course they do.

It’s Sunday. It’s the South. This is where football and faith live quite comfortably together.

Take all that hand-raising, for instance. On the football field, officials raise both arms to signal touchdowns. In church, we raise both arms in prayer … and it just so happens that on this Sunday, we’re praying for touchdowns.

And in that light, you might be looking for a “Rise-up” worship service to go with the Falcons’ “Rise-Up” rallying cry.

If there were such a church service, I’d start with Matt Maher’s “Rise Up” for an upbeat song to get us started. Follow that with Matt Redman’s “Shine,” and you’ve got the entire congregation singing, “So we rise up with a song, we rise up with a cry!”

After the welcome, we’ll slow it down with “We Will Rise Up” from Soulfire Revolution, and then do a little spiritual warfare with Hillsong’s “With Everthing.” Spiritual warfare, you ask? Listen to the lyrics, which proclaim, “Let hope rise and darkness tremble.” It’s an obvious reference to the ominous figure in the dark hoodie, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

After all that Rise-Up music, you’ll need a sermon.

If I were the preacher, I’d either slightly alter the challenge of Isaiah 40:30 to “soar on wings like falcons, to run and not grow weary …” or go with the very clear football mandate of Psalm 44. “Through You we will push down our enemies,” says the passage. “Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.”

Gives you chills to see God at work here, no?

I’d end church this Sunday morning with “Who Will Rise Up,” the incredibly emotional song from the Vertical Church Band. By then, every church-goer in Georgia would be ready to take on the world … or at the very least, we’d be ready to watch the Super Bowl while eating way too many Doritos chips.

And just in case all the Sunday prayers can’t help the Falcons, keep this thought in your back pocket. Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Rise” is perhaps one of the best songs ever written to help a family deal with loss. If the experts are right, we’re going to need a little consolation just before midnight.

Yes, it’s a bit of a long shot to think these Rise-Up Falcons might actually win the Super Bowl. But hey, they’re there. They’ve got a great team. And more than a few very real prayers will be said for them on Super Bowl Sunday morning.

As for me and my house, we’re keeping the faith. It’ll be the Falcons by a field goal.

Rise up, Falcons fans!